Police pay respects after ‘community-spirited’ Welwyn Hatfield PCSO steps down
PUBLISHED: 14:45 16 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:45 16 January 2017
A dedicated Welwyn Hatfield PCSO who even became Father Christmas to cheer up a six-year-old after a terrifying car accident, has reflected on his role as he steps down.
PCSO Neil Rider’s passion for his community began 13 years ago when he started work as a street warden for Welwyn Hatfield Council in Peartree and Woodhall, which is where he lives with his wife.
The 58-year-old said: “As street wardens we were dealing with anti-social behaviour and listening to people’s concerns, and we used to work alongside the police and PCSOs at the time.
“I thought ‘I’d like to have a go at that job’, so I applied. It was a natural progression for me.”
Neil soon completed the training course, and has tackled all manner of incidents in his eight-year career with Hertfordshire Constabulary.
The father-of two recalls a challenging situation he found himself in several Christmases ago, alongside fellow Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Amanda Grigg.
He said: “We were the first on the scene of an RTC in Cole Green Lane, which involved a family who were on their way to see Father Christmas.
“There was a little boy of about six in the car, plus his mum and dad, and we needed to act quickly.
“All your training kicks in and we did what we could to reassure those involved before the ambulance team arrived.”
The family were not seriously injured but to cheer them up, Neil and his colleague Amanda organised a kind-hearted gesture.
Neil said: “We went round all the local shops to gather presents for the family and the businesses were very generous. When we had enough, I dressed up as Father Christmas and Amanda dressed up as an elf before we handed the presents to them. They were over the moon.”
Another memorable moment was raising £1,200 for Isabel Hospice at a family fun day for the residents of Peartree and Woodhall.
The grandfather-of-two has started a new job as a site manager at a local primary school this month.
He said: “Being a PCSO is physically tough on the feet, and the shift work can be hard too so I’m looking forward to the more regular hours. However I will miss my colleagues, who I count as my friends, immensely and I can honestly say the last eight years have been a real pleasure.”
Fellow PCSO Amanda Grigg, from the Welwyn Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Over the past seven or eight years of working with Neil, I cannot think of a better colleague to work alongside.
“He showed how professional, compassionate, friendly and a good confidant he could be both to the community he served and to the team. He really understood Peartree and Woodhall wards and their needs.
“Neil and I worked so well together that sometimes we didn’t even have to say anything and we both knew what the other one was thinking and with one look to each other knew what we had to do if dealing with an incident.
“I’ll always be proud to say I worked with him not only would I call him a good friend - he was even a witness at my wedding - but he is like a second cad to me.”
Sergeant Stephen Hynes, of the Welwyn Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Neil is very much missed by all the SNT and the public. A gentleman, a grafter and very much understated. He was ever dependable, always there and such a great, community-spirited person.
“He is very well liked and was always talked about when I visited his patch - very much an “old school” chap. But he has gone on to something he wants to do, which he is really suited to and I’m sure he will love just as much. And he is always welcome at Rosanne House – as long as he brings cake.”
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